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John Eastham

MAJOR dealership group Autopact is making changes at the top with director John Eastham to relinquish his role as chief executive officer.

Mr Eastham, who remains a director and major shareholder with business partner Garry Crick, will hand over the CEO role to current deputy CEO James Welch from January 1, 2019.

Mr Eastham told GoAutoNews Premium that nothing changes with the operation of Autopact but the appointment of Mr Welch will allow him to devote more time to the company’s direction and strategies.

James Welch

He said that Mr Welch was “our one and only choice for CEO and if he wasn’t ready, willing and able, and we didn’t think that he was going to do great things for the group, I would not be stepping aside”.

Mr Welch has been Autopact’s chief financial officer since February 2016.

Autopact has also this week appointed Ian Johnson from Victorian COO to group operations manager of QLD and NSW, relocating him and his family to the Sunshine Coast.

Autopact, founded in 1995 as the Crick Auto Group, now has 29 dealerships. It partnered with equity company Archer Capital in 2015 and expanded to acquire automotive businesses including the Peter Terry Group in 2016 and the Bayford Group in 2017.

By Neil Dowling